SANTA CLARA The 49ers are getting a jump-start on what promises to be a red-hot free-agent market for wide receivers by visiting with one of the most prolific and controversial wideouts of the last decade, Randy Moss.
Moss, 35, flew to the Bay Area on Sunday and is scheduled to meet with, and run routes for, 49ers officials today.
News of Moss' visit was first reported by ESPN.
For years, Moss was perhaps the most dangerous wide receiver in the NFL, one whose height, speed, leaping ability and hand-eye coordination made him a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
The 49ers, who looked at big wide receivers such as Plaxico Burress and Braylon Edwards on the free-agent market last year, need both a downfield threat and someone who can catch passes in the red zone. The 6-foot-4 Moss excelled at both at his peak, at least.
He has finished with more than 10 touchdowns in nine of his 13 seasons, most recently in 2009 when he caught 13 for the Patriots.
But he has had run-ins with the law, has been accused of taking plays off and last year announced he would retire. He played for three teams in 2010 New England, Minnesota and Tennessee and finished the season with a ho-hum 28 catches for 393 yards and five touchdowns.
Moss announced last month he would come out of retirement. He reportedly had a strong workout for the Saints last week, and other teams are interested in seeing whether he can still play.
Moss is already a free agent, meaning that a team could sign him before free agency begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
That market is expected to be especially fierce for wide receivers.
The 49ers have only two wideouts who caught passes for them in 2011 Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams signed for the upcoming season. Other teams such as the Colts, Jaguars, Bears, Redskins and Patriots also are looking to make a splash at the position.
The 49ers have three wide receivers scheduled to become free agents Tuesday.
Joshua Morgan will be the most heavily pursued, including by the 49ers, who like his combination of size, work ethic and youth. Morgan turns 27 in June.
Ted Ginn, meanwhile, never distinguished himself as a wide receiver in Miami or San Francisco, but he is still one of the fastest players in the league, which will make him attractive to other squads.
Furthermore, he has had a key role on the 49ers' top-notch special-teams units. The calamities that occurred when Ginn missed the NFC Championship Game because of an injury only underscored his value as a returner.
Finally, the 49ers like Brett Swain, who was signed off the street in October.
However, they will not offer him a restricted free-agent tender and are more interested in bringing him back on a minimum-salary deal.